Steppenwolf Theatre mourns longtime ensemble member Mariann Mayberry

  • Longtime Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Mariann Mayberry, seen here in 2015's "Grand Concourse," died Tuesday from cancer.

    Longtime Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Mariann Mayberry, seen here in 2015's "Grand Concourse," died Tuesday from cancer. Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

Posted8/1/2017 3:13 PM

Mariann Mayberry, a longtime Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member, died Tuesday of complications from ovarian cancer. She was 52.

The actress was described Tuesday as a formidable talent, a tireless worker and a true original. She starred on Broadway in "Metamorphoses," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "August: Osage County" and earned a 2013 Joseph Jefferson Award for her blistering performance in Steppenwolf's Chicago-area premiere of "Good People."


"She seemed enchanted to me," said Steppenwolf artistic director Anna D. Shapiro.

"She always had a smile on her face," added Shapiro, who directed Mayberry in Steppenwolf's 2007 premiere of the Tony Award-winning "August: Osage County."

The theater canceled Tuesday performances and will hold an informal gathering at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Front Bar, 1700 N. Halsted St., Chicago. A memorial service will take place at a later date.

Mayberry's death marks the third Steppenwolf loss in four months. Longtime artistic director Martha Lavey, 60, died in April from complications from a stroke. Glenne Headly, 62, an early ensemble member, died in June.

Mayberry, a Springfield, Missouri, native, last appeared at Steppenwolf in 2015's "Grand Concourse." She battled cancer for 4½ years, Shapiro said, continuing to work during treatment that would have sidelined other patients.

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"She kept plowing through," said Shapiro, who described Mayberry as the fittest person she has ever known.

"Her smile belied a serious actor who took her craft seriously," Shapiro said. "She had a great combination of good humor coupled with a deep understanding of what her job was."

Mayberry and her husband, fellow actor Scott Jaeck, recently celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary.

"Scott had been in love with Mariann for a long time before she realized she should give him a shot," Shapiro said. "You could always sense with Scott that he couldn't believe his good fortune ... he loved being around her."

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